Mayan Cosmogenesis 2012

John Major Jenkins

(The original working Introduction as of early 1996)


Charting time was a central concern of ancient  Mesoamerican  skywatchers.  Many cultures in Mexico and Central America  shared  this  common fascination, and were making  detailed  astronomical  observations well over 2000 years ago. These groups included  the Olmec, Zapotec and Aztec peoples, but especially the Maya. Close­ly related  to Mesoamerican ideas about time is the  concept  of World Ages, which envisions distinct epochs in the history of the human  race.  Naturally, there was a great interest in  when  the next  World  Age shift would take place. According to  the  Mayan Long  Count calendar, this much anticipated event occurs in  2012 A.D.[1]


The  premise of this book is that the astronomical basis  of the World Age doctrine is a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes. In general, this is not a novel proposition,  and was explored thoroughly in Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha  von Dechend's  groundbreaking Hamlet's Mill (1969).[2] However,  Ham­let's Mill and other more recent books on the topic have  focused on  Old  World traditions. The possibility  that  precession  was understood in ancient Mesoamerica has received little  attention, and  little concrete evidence for it has yet been put forward.  I have  assembled my own research toward this end, and am  prepared to demonstrate how precession was at the foundation of cosmologi­cal and calendric science in Mesoamerica.


Ever  since Hamlet's Mill resurrected the idea that  ancient astronomy and mythology were closely related, precession has been a recurring leit motif in many books insightfully  reconstructing  the  esoteric facets of ancient knowledge. Jane B.  Sellers'  The Death  of Gods in Ancient Egypt (1992) carefully outlined a compelling  argument that certain astronomical  phenomena including the precession of the equinoxes were understood by ancient  Egyp­tian skywatchers. The Orion Mystery burst onto the scene in 1994 and  showed how one of the Great Pyramid's sight tubes  (commonly called  "air shafts") aligned with the stars of Orion's  Belt  in the  era 2600 B.C.[3] The authors, Robert Bauval and Adrian  Gil­bert,  explained their realization that the Great Pyramid  serves as  a  precessional star-clock, in that its orientation  defines certain eras in the precessional cycle. A time some 12,500  years ago  is indicated by the Great Pyramid as an era the early  Egyp­tians  were especially interested in.[4] Although the authors  do not  mention  it,  12,500 years ago identifies the  last  time  a solstice  sun  coincided with the Milky Way. The next  time  this happens, and central to my World Age premise, is the Mayan calen­dar  end-date  in  A.D. 2012. In The Orion  Mystery  Bauval  also shares  his  discovery  that the three main  pyramids  of  Cheops mirror  the  three  stars of Orion's Belt in  relative  size  and orientation. As such, the Nile represents the Milky Way. This  is a  type of sky-earth hierophany that we also find in Mayan  pyra­mids, which were cosmograms (images of the cosmos) in stone. In  Fingerprints  of the Gods (1995), sleuth-scholar  Graham  Hancock added to this by showing that the constellation Leo the Lion  was rising  on the vernal equinox at the "Zero Time" of  10,500  B.C. The importance here is that the Sphinx, now thought to date  back much further than previously thought, faces the eastern skies. In other words, Hancock suggests that the Sphinx may have been built during the astrological age of Leo, which occurred around  10,500 B.C. This date supports Bauval's findings and, as Bauval  himself mentions,  recalls  Edgar Cayce's  channelled  information  about Atlantean cataclysm.


These  writers have all focused on precession as  a  greatly unrecognized  foundation-concept in the development of Old  World religion  and science. In compelling and original work  published in  the  1940s and 50s, much of it stemming from  field  observa­tions, French researcher R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz defined  Egypt as the great parent culture from which Old World wisdom emanated. In  his book Sacred Science (1961 [1982]), de Lubicz  shares the data  which helped him conclude that the ancient  Egyptians  were aware  of  the precession of the equinoxes. More  recent  authors have for the most part followed this lead. 


The evidence for precessional knowledge in the Old World  is substantial  and covers a wide spectrum of myth, tradition,  sci­ence  and  religion. Much of this evidence is  ultimately  deemed "circumstantial"   by  hard-core  empiricists  but,   altogether, provides  a strong case for a deep interest in the precession  of the  equinoxes  going  back beyond the dim  origins  of  recorded history.  Various  types of alignments that wax and wane  in  the cycle  of precession are what concerned the  ancient  astronomer-priests,  and the Old World doctrine of twelve astrological  ages was  only one way of mapping this Great Cycle. My interest is  in how the Great Cycle of the stars was mapped and calibrated  among the  ancient  civilizations of the New  World,  specifically,  in Mesoamerica.


In  this  book I will describe two  different  methods  with which the ancient skywatchers of Mesoamerica marked alignments in the Great Cycle of precession. Naturally, becoming aware of  this astronomical cycle gives rise to ideas about World Ages, eternal­ly recurring celestial alignments with attendant  transformations of cyclic renewal. Epigrapher, art historian, and Mayan  scholar Linda Schele has shown in recent books that, as in the Old World, astronomy  and  mythology were closely  related  in  Mesoamerica. Mayan  creation mythology describes ages of time  that  typically end in cataclysm and transformation.


Eschatology has to do with the belief in temporal end-points or culmination as a historical process.[5] In this sense,  Mesoa­merican cosmology is essentially eschatological. A deeper reading of Mesoamerican traditions, however, reveals that time ends  only to  begin anew. Thus, there are indeed end-times in  Mesoamerican thinking,  but, ultimately, time is cyclic. The period of  trans­formation at the end-beginning nexus is unavoidably frought  with a  chaotic  and apocalyptic spirit. This seems  to  describe  our current  age and, in fact, both of the Mesoamerican  methods  for tracking  precession that we will explore point to our  immediate future. It is greatly ironic, and perhaps indicative of something stranger  going on, that these Mayan end-times happen  to correspond  with the millennial shift of the western Christian calen­dar.[6]


The  two  precession-tracking methods of the Maya  are  very straightforward  and  are based upon the most  studied  and  best known  aspects  of  Mesoamerican cosmology  and  calendrics.  One involves  the end-date of the 13-Baktun cycle of the  Mayan  Long Count  calendar, while the other involves the New Fire  ceremony, the  Sun,  the Pleiades, and the Pyramid of Kukulcan  at  Chichen Itza. The evidence is overwhelming, but not readily recognized in academic circles. Why? Probably because the implications of  what I  present  are beyond the scope of what scholars  consider  safe ground. However, and I must emphasize this, the evidence I  pres­ent  is  not speculative or vague at all. I trust that  even  the most careful reader will find this to be true. I have synthesized information found primarily in academic sources, as my notes  and bibliography attest. The conclusions I draw result from a careful and  pointed  course of study in  Mesoamerican  archaeoastronomy, calendrics, culture and cosmology. As we will see, the possibili­ty that precession was understood by ancient New World  astronom­ers has, in fact, been discussed by Mayanists, but commitment in looking for concrete methods  has been either lagging or off  the mark.   Overall,  the  conclusion  that  precessional   knowledge provides  the  astronomical basis of  eschatological  thought  in Mesoamerica is certainly worthy of scientific study. In  compari­son, the astounding implications that unavoidably arise, which  I will also address in this book (Chapter VI), probably belong more to  a type of esoteric New World metaphysics than to "pure"  sci­ence. In my opinion, both metaphysics and science must be used to interpret this material and do it justice. Consequently, we  find that  Mesoamerican genius partakes of the great universal  wisdom recent writers have been decoding in the esoteric cosmologies  of ancient  Old  World civilizations. De  Santillana,  von  Dechend, Bauval  and Gilbert, Sellers, Schwaller de Lubicz,  John  Anthony West,  Graham Hancock and the Flem-Aths have all  contributed  to elucidating  the  Old  World inflection of  the  Mystery  of  the Ages.[7] And the New World evidence is just as striking,  perhaps more  so.  These findings are, frankly, astounding, but  I  don't feel compelled to invoke Atlantean ghosts or extraterrestrials to explain any of this. At Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula  of Mexico,  we  find a cosmic Pyramid-Myth defining  a  precessional alignment just as Bauval proposes for the Great Pyramid in Egypt. We  also find that the Mayan Long Count calendar, which  ends  in 2012 A.D., highlights a precession-related alignment between  the solstice  Sun and the Milky Way. This is a no-nonsense  calendric artifact  that is more compelling than anything discussed in  the Old  World material. In other words, the two simple facts of  the Long  Count  end-date and the concurrent galactic  alignment  are indisputable.


The methods for marking and tracking precession in Mesoamer­ica are different than those proposed for Old  World  cosmology,and sometimes involve concepts that are not readily  appreciated by those  geared  to Old World thought  patterns.  For  example,  tropical astronomy must be understood to appreciate  Mesoamerican cosmology,  but  is almost completely  unnecessary  for  studying Egyptian  star-knowledge.  As pioneer  archaeoastronomer  Anthony Aveni writes, "In ancient societies, the sky and its contents lay at the very foundation of human cognition" (1984:255), and:


"...judged  by the Western cultural yardstick, astronomical  sys­tems developed by indigenous civilizations of the tropical  lati­tudes  are found to be both complex and  fundamentally  different from  those originating in civilizations of the  temperate  lati­tudes. One explanation for this is the radically contrasting  sky orientations that are viewed from different parts of the globe, a determinative  environmental factor in the development of  cosmo­logical systems that should not be neglected..."[8]


I  hope  that this book will open up new directions  in  the study of New World cosmology, and preserve for the  appreciation of future generations the amazing genius of a civilization  which we must humbly bow to and honor. We are just beginning to  under­stand what they knew. The importance of the  foundation-principle of this ancient cosmovision - the precession of the equinoxes  - has no place in our short-sighted technocracy. Perhaps this  will be our  undoing.  


We know about precession today,  but,  as  the authors  of Hamlet's Mill write, "The space-time  continuum  does not effect it. It is by now only a boring complication" (67).  To the  ancients  it  had the most profound  of  implications.  Like saying  that the moon is the same size as the sun - which  sounds absurd  to the modern mind but is, from the native  understanding that  the  moon  is Woman and the sun is Man,  perfectly  true  - precession  may  be more relevant than we think.  Perspective  is such  a relative thing, based on experience  and  observation.[9]


For  human beings on earth, the full moon and the sun  do  indeed appear to be the same size (literally and symbolically).  Science claims to take a larger view, but scientific knowledge is limited by  its materialistic criteria. It is not "larger" in  the  right way.  Unfortunately, today we don't need the grand holistic  perspective  offered  by  ancient cosmology; our  sights  have  been reduced  to  the task at hand. We are, literally, a  very  short-sighted culture. We don't need big news.


It is not the goal of this book to speculate so much on  the "effects" of the upcoming alignments.[10] I only hope to  clearly establish that ancient New World cultures were much more  sophis­ticated  than  we have been giving them credit for. More  to  the point, we should come away with a clear respect for the prominent role  played  by the precession of the equinoxes in  ancient New World astronomy. And yet, underlying this whole discussion is  my firm belief that precession is somehow related to the epic vicis­situdes of the human journey, defining the ebb and flow of galactic  seasons on a vast scale.


Much has been said of this, in the books  mentioned above, and much more might be suggested.[11] We can only hope that one day we may fully understand the overarch­ing  importance of this Great Year and the role it plays in  the unfolding of human culture and in the evolution of consciousness.


At the dawn of agriculture in the Paleolithic, human  beings began to understand the nature and potential of the yearly cycle. Their time-concept was enhanced, they planned for a future barely appreciated  by  their  immediate ancestors,  and  the  resultant effects  on human culture were transformative.


The same might  be said for us in regard to our understanding of the larger Galactic Season of precession; if we can enlarge our spacetime concept and appreciate the immanent potential of this Great Year, the  future of  the human race might be brighter than we can presently  imag­ine. Suffice it to say that we are, in fact,  living in the Mayan end-times, and something completely unprecedented does appear  to be going on. This book is primarily  concerned with showing  that the  ancient inhabitants of the New World were privy to a  cosmo­logical knowledge that we are just beginning to understand. Mayan Cosmogenesis 2012 is a "first reconnaissance" into this  profound knowledge as it flowered in Mesoamerica. According to this  anci­ent  knowledge, a door into the heart of space and time opens  in A.D. 2012. May we all take a step forward.






1.  Linda Schele (1996) indirectly challenged a basic premise  of my  work, the position that the 13 baktun cycle end-date in  2012 A.D.  was considered by the Maya to be a World Age shift. For  my response see Appendix 7, "Response to Counter-Arguments."


2. See Appendix 1 for an introductory commentary on Hamlet's Mill

and its authors.


3. This was originally put forward by Badaway (1964) and  Trimble



4.  Bauval  makes it clear that he doesn't believe  the  pyramids  themselves were built that far back. Nevertheless, Bauval  writes  that the pyramids were designed to refer to that ancient era,  as  the primeval "First Time."


5.  This "historical" process has an astronomical basis:  preces­sion.  It  would be misleading to call  this  astrology,  because precession is an earth rhythm, rather than a causative  influence impinging upon us from the stars. However, it's probably a little of both, because  precession does change our relationship to  the larger cosmos.


6.  One  might speculate here that  early  Mithraic  astrologers, following  the  rediscovery of precession by  Hipparchus  in  127 B.C.,  projected forward to the alignment of the galaxy with  the solstice  sun.


The reason for suspecting this is the  coincidence of  the  Christian year 2000 with the alignment. In  this  light, focus  would be directed on the early Christian  theologians who set in place the Christian calendar. However, the problem is that Christian  dating is based upon the birth of Jesus, a  supposedly historical  event. This implies other scenarios which I  have  no space  to  address here, but at least will state:  


1)  Historical events  (such as the birth of Jesus) do unfold  in  numerological resonance  to the end-date alignment;


2) Church  astrologers  and theologians manipulated historical records and biblical documents so  that the future astronomical alignment would correspond to  a

year 2000.


Another angle: Researchers have identified a  Saturn-Jupiter conjunction  in 6 B.C. as the likely "sign in the  heavens"  that signalled  the birth of the Messiah. As explained  in  Santillana and  Dechend (1969) and Sullivan (1996), the trigons of  Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions were possibly used to track precession. Thus, the conjunction of 6 B.C. provides a connection between the "zero year" of the Christian calendar and a method for tracking preces­sion. 


7. See the Bibliography for complete source information.




8. Aveni (1981:161). "Tropical Archaeoastronomy."


9.  See Appendix 6, "Caspar's Lesson." Regarding  the  scientific knowledge  that  the sun is "really" much larger  than  the  moon (i.e., that Man is bigger than Woman), the fact that the develop­ment  of  this conceptual doctrine parallels the  denial  of  the female (yin) principle in Western civilization is startling  food for thought.



10.  For  a  look at the bigger metaphysical  picture,  see  Clow (1995).  Terence  McKenna's thoughts on the  upcoming  shift  are central  to his Timewave Zero theory (1993). Also  see  McKenna's Hyperborea website.


11.  I've  done a great deal of research along these  lines,  and developed a visionary cosmology called "The Tree of Life cosmolo­gy."  


I would direct the interested reader to my books Mirror  in the Sky (1991a) and Jaloj Kexoj and PHI-64 (1994c).